Man's dream to own Kingwood home turns into nightmare

May 10, 2013 8:21:45 AM PDT
The hot Houston real estate market is fueling price spikes, forcing some buyers to look hard for bargains, and one couple says a deal on what seemed to be a dream home has turned into nightmare.

The home is listed as for sale by owner, and more than one family says it has put down money to buy it, but the home remains listed for sale.

The house at 1442 Hamblen in Kingwood sits on a big corner lot, but the $281,000 price tag caught Robert Kilpatrick's eye, so he called the owner.

"I asked him three times, 'Is this the price? This house, because this doesn't seem, it seems like this house would be more?' And he says, 'Oh yeah, yeah,'" Kilpatrick said.

After touring the home with John Jones, the man Kilpatrick says claimed to be the owner, Kilpatrick says he was ready to buy.

"We wound up giving him $12,000 in earnest money," Kilpatrick said,

Kilpatrick says he was told the home would be owner financed but says that changed and he would have to go through a pre-selected finance company.

"The payment went from $1,300 a month to $2,395," Kilpatrick said.

Kilpatrick says he then wanted his money back. Kilpatrick says the owner asked for a letter stating why, and Kilpatrick says he sent one.

"No response," Kilpatrick said.

Kilpatrick says the owner eventually asked for a second letter and Kilpatrick says he sent that one too.

"And nothing," Kilpatrick said.

Kilpatrick says he then confronted the owner at the home on Hamblen Drive and the police were called.

"He asked that I be removed from the property," Kilpatrick said.

Kilpatrick says he put his story on Craigslist and got a call from another family claiming they gave Jones $10,000 months earlier and also had trouble getting their money back after the deal fell through.

Jones had agreed to speak with us about the issue but backed out on advice of his attorney.

To keep this from happening to you, experts say never give money directly to a homeowner. Instead, use a title company as a go-between.

"They actually hold your money in trust and no one -- not the owner nor you -- have access to that money," HAR chair Danny Frank said.

One family did get their money back, but it took five months. The Kilpatrick family says they have not seen one dime from their $12,000 earnest money.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13


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